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How to Become a Hollywood Actor

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Moving to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting can challenge even the most experienced performer. Becoming a successful Hollywood actor can result in fame and fortune, but getting there promises an uphill climb. It's not as easy as it looks. Hollywood actors audition, network and market to win and keep jobs, and they continuously pursue the next job. Persistence and dedication prevent burn-out for the newcomer and veteran alike.

Take acting, improv and voice-over classes to hone your skills and gain new ones. Even if you graduated from theater school or performed in other markets, Hollywood acting presents stiff competition. Additional classes will freshen your skills, land you some new ones and build your resume. Agents and directors enjoy seeing actors trained in diverse areas because it adds to their versatility. Local theaters and colleges often offer acting classes.

Perform locally. You will need to showcase as much acting experience as possible when you start booking auditions and interviewing agents. Many unpaid acting opportunities at non-profit theaters or in locally produced films put you in the presence of seasoned artists. Unpaid acting jobs give you experience to pursue paid acting jobs, and you want as many as possible of both types on your resume before walking into the office of an agent or casting director.

Move to the Hollywood area. Moving is a big step, and if you are coming from most other areas of the country, you will notice a steep increase in your cost of living. For this reason, moving to Hollywood requires that you save money or have a steady income stream available. (See Reference two.)

Send out your headshot and resume to acting agents. Your resume should highlight your best roles and experiences and should be no longer than one page. Your headshot needs to look like you but reflect you in the best manner possible. It should be professionally produced. Many actors hire professional makeup artists, although an overly glamorized look will only inhibit your chances. Your makeup artist should minimize cosmetic imperfections and bring out your natural appeal.

Audition. Find work by visiting online and newspaper call boards. When you go to an audition, dress in the specified manner or in a a wardrobe choice that reflects the character, without wearing an actual costume. For commercial auditions, for example, when you would be playing a doctor or lawyer, show up in professional dress. Arrive on time and take direction, even if it seems counterintuitive to your view of the part, because the director may be looking for your ability to adapt, rather than a specific character choice.

Join a union. Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild are two large unions that represent actors. Acting unions weed out scams, aid actors in finding well-paying jobs and even provide employment benefits, such as retirement accounts and insurance. (See References three and four.)


Avoid casting scams. You should never have to pay a casting agent or director an upfront fee to audition or to be selected for any acting job or be part of their projects. Agents earn their fees when you work and will take a percentage of your salary. (See Reference three.)


Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.

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